18 SEPTEMBER 2022
US MUST SUPPORT GREATER MEASURES AGAINST IUU FISHING AT HOME AND ABROAD
An article from the US Naval Institute’s Proceedings magazine in November says that, as the stability of fisheries and international norms is tested, unlawful fishing will grow increasingly destructive to the security of nations and their waters; and that the US and allies can—and should—do more to stop IUU fishing.
CHINA’S FOOTPRINT IN A TALIBAN-LED AFGHANISTAN
A new Insights Paper from SIPRI sets out to provide a preliminary assessment of China’s attitudes to and policies on Afghanistan since the August 2021 Taliban takeover. It examines the scope of China’s security, economic and humanitarian interests, and the depth of its engagement so far. It finds that China’s footprint has been minimal and that current realities mean that China’s overall approach to Afghanistan will remain cautious, pragmatic and limited.
RUSSIA SANCTIONS: USING REASONABLE ENDEAVOURS IN THE EVENT OF FORCE MAJEURE NOW EXCUSES STRICT PERFORMANCE
An article from Haynes & Boone LLP on 15 November was concerned with a Court of Appeal case in London in which the Court overturned a Commercial Court judgment and restored an arbitration award, and finding that the defendant could not rely on the force majeure clause to suspend performance, as they should have exercised reasonable endeavours and accepted payment of the contractual amount due for freight in an alternative currency the claimant. It is said that the judgment illustrates the difficulties with interpretation of a force majeure clause requiring the exercise of reasonable endeavours.
UK: OVERSEAS PRODUCTION ORDERS – POTENTIAL CHALLENGES
On 15 November, an article from Doughty Street Chambers examined potential challenges to OPO, which currently may only apply between the US and UK, but which are designed to streamline the process of obtaining electronic material between jurisdictions which was previously dependent on the cumbersome system of mutual legal assistance.
THE EU HAS FROZEN A TOTAL OF €68 BILLION IN RUSSIAN ASSETS — MOST OF WHICH ARE IN BELGIUM
On 18 November, Politico reported a “scoop”, saying that it had seen an internal EU Commission paper which says that Belgium accounts for €50 billion of the €68 billion figure. Luxembourg is second with €5.5 billion. Together with Italy, Germany, Ireland, Austria and France, they account for over 90% of the frozen assets.
UK ORDERS CHINESE-OWNED COMPANY TO UNWIND CHIP-FACTORY DEAL
On 17 November, the Wall Street Journal reported that the UK Government said a Chinese-owned company – Nexperia BV (a Dutch subsidiary of China’s Wingtech Technology) – must unwind its acquisition of a British computer-chip factory – Newport Wafer Fab, a manufacturing facility in Wales – more than a year after the takeover was completed because the deal posed a risk to national security.
MALTA: FINANCIAL CRIMES CHIEF RESIGNS AMID CRITICISM OF UNIT
On 13 November, the Times of Malta reported that financial crimes chief Alexandra Mamo has resigned from the post after 2 years. It also says that while the unit has upped the number of money-laundering prosecutions over the last 2 years, civil society groups and the opposition have remained critical about the lack of high-level corruption prosecutions – and its handling of the Pilatus Bank investigation and prosecution is facing court scrutiny after an NGO alleged a cover-up over the police’s failure to prosecute the bank’s top brass.
TRACE BRIBERY RISK MATRIX
TRACE has released the latest version of its Matrix, which shows Norway as top (least corrupt) and North Korea bottom. According to this year’s data, North Korea, Turkmenistan, Equatorial Guinea, Syria and Venezuela present the highest commercial bribery risk, while Norway, New Zealand, Sweden, Switzerland and Denmark present the lowest.
US: BUREAU OF INDUSTRY SECURITY RAMPING UP EXPORT CONTROL ENFORCEMENT
On 17 November, an article from the Volkov Law Group says that the Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security promised aggressive enforcement of export controls, this promise extending beyond the Russian-Belarus export controls. It says that BIS has kept its promise.
1 YEAR SINCE SEYCHELLES’ BIGGEST CORRUPTION-RELATED ARRESTS
On 18 November, an article from the Seychelles News Agency says it has been a year since prominent Seychellois businessman Mukesh Valabhji and his wife Laura, a lawyer, were arrested by police on suspicion of money laundering of $50 million, granted to the Seychelles’ government by the UAE in 2002, and have been on remand since. The article reviews the position and looks at the main points in the case a year after the arrests.
NCA SEIZE £2 MILLION ASSETS FROM MEMBERS OF ANABOLIC STEROID ORGANISED CRIME GROUP
A news release from the NCA on 17 November said that the NCA began an investigation into the group in 2014, following an initial seizure of steroids that were being shipped to Belfast. The illegally imported drugs made in India were shipped to the UK to be distributed to body builders and fitness fanatics on the black market.
ILLEGAL TIMBER TRADE TARGETED IN THE EU AND BRAZIL
A news release from Europol on 18 November advised that Europol had supported one of a kind international operation targeting illegal timber trade both in source and destination countries. The actions involved law enforcement authorities from Brazil, France, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal and Spain as well as the Latin American Project EL PAcCTO. The actions targeted networks involved in environmental crime, illegal logging, smuggling, tax evasion, money laundering and document fraud.
HOW SIERRA LEONE’S ARTISANAL DIAMONDS FAIL TO BENEFIT LOCAL COMMUNITIES
On 18 November, an article from OCCRP was concerned with diamonds from the fields around the Kono District capital of Koidu, one of the richest diamond deposits in the world. The concession is now owned by Israeli mining magnate Beny Steinmetz’s BSG Resources. It reports disruption to local livelihoods, destruction of swaths of farmlands, pollution of the air and contaminated underground water in the area. It also says that not all diamonds uncovered in Sierra Leone are exported legally. Diamond smuggling, notoriously rampant during the civil war, remains a significant problem.
HONG KONG CUSTOMS SEIZE OVER 100,000 SUSPECTED FAKE JERSEYS AHEAD OF QATAR WORLD CUP
On 17 November, the Hong Kong Free Press reported that Customs had arrested 15 people and seized more than 100,000 suspected counterfeit football jerseys, days before the 2022 FIFA World Cup was set to kick off in Qatar. Most of the confiscated jerseys were intended for export to Europe, South America and Africa.
COUNTRIES VOTE TO REGULATE SHARK FIN TRADE IN LANDMARK DECISION AT WILDLIFE SUMMIT
On 18 November, the Guardian reported that the CITES conference has voted to limit or regulate the commercial trade in 54 shark species of the requiem family, including tiger, bull and blue sharks which are the most targeted for the fin trade. It will require countries to ensure legality and sustainability prior to authorising exports of these species.
UK: FCA HAS PUBLICLY CENSURED THE FORMER CEO OF SONALI BANK (UK) LIMITED FOR AML FAILINGS
On 18 November, a release on Mondo Visione advised that the FCA has publicly censured Mohammad Ataur Rahman Prodhan, the former Chief Executive Officer of Sonali Bank (UK) Limited (SBUK). It is said that in 2014 Prodhan failed to take reasonable steps to assess and mitigate the AML risks arising from a culture of non-compliance among SBUK’s staff.
BANNED FIFA OFFICIAL WARNER LOSES EXTRADITION APPEAL
On 17 November, France 24 reported that the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in London, Trinidad and Tobago’s highest court of appeal, rejected former FIFA vice-president’s appeal against extradition to the US. Indicted in the US in 2015, the former president of CONCACAF, the governing body for North and Central America and the Caribbean, faces charges related to “wire fraud, racketeering and money laundering”. His sons Darryll and Daryan have both pleaded guilty to charges as part of the DoJ indictment.
US: FDA WARNS COMPANIES FOR SELLING ILLEGAL E-CIGARETTES THAT LOOK LIKE TOYS, FOOD, AND CARTOON CHARACTERS
On 16 November, a news release advised that the FDA had issued warning letters to 5 companies for the unauthorised marketing of 15 different e-cigarette products.
OFAC NEW RUSSIA SANCTIONS GENERAL LICENSE
On 18 November, OFAC issued General License 54 authorising certain transactions involving VEON Ltd prohibited by Executive Order 14071.
TAXATION OF THE DIGITALISED ECONOMY
On 18 November, KPMG published the latest edition of its international guide looking at both direct and indirect taxation.
UK BUSINESS TYCOON FACING A TAX BILL OF CLOSE TO £1 MILLION AFTER BEING FOUND TO HAVE TAKEN PART IN AN AVOIDANCE SCHEME PROMOTED BY ONE OF BRITAIN’S BIGGEST ACCOUNTANCY FIRMS
On 15 November, The Times reported that Timothy Watts, who is chairman and president of the recruitment giant Pertemps, which has an annual turnover of £1 billion, faces a bill of £530,000 plus £370,000 in interest after taking part in the scheme marketed by Grant Thornton, which he says he was repeatedly assured operated within tax rules.
RUSSIA WARMS TO US PRISONER SWAP FOR ARMS TRADER VIKTOR BOUT
On 18 November, EurActiv reported that Russia had indicated that it hoped to clinch a prisoner swap with the US to return convicted Russian arms trafficker Viktor Bout in an exchange that would likely include US basketball star Brittney Griner.
EU REPORT INTO ADMINISTRATIVE AND CRIMINAL SANCTIONS AND OTHER ADMINISTRATIVE MEASURES IMPOSED UNDER THE MARKET ABUSE REGULATION IN 2021
On 18 November, the EU published this report saying that, in 2021, National Competent Authorities (NCA) reported in total 366 administrative sanctions and measures and 29 criminal sanctions for infringements of Regulation (EU) No 596/2014 on Market Abuse (MAR). While the number of administrative sanctions and measures under MAR significantly decreased compared to 2020, the financial penalties significantly increased. With regards to criminal sanctions under MAR, both the number of sanctions and the aggregated value of the imposed sanctions decreased compared to 2020.
10 CHARGED IN BUSINESS EMAIL COMPROMISE AND MONEY LAUNDERING SCHEMES TARGETING MEDICARE, MEDICAID, AND OTHER VICTIMS
A news release from US DoJ on 18 November announced charges against 10 defendants in multiple states in connection with multiple business email compromise (BEC), money laundering, and wire fraud schemes that targeted Medicare, state Medicaid programs, private health insurers, and numerous other victims and resulted in more than $11.1 million in total losses.